Eating-up Stratford
Bite by Byte

Monday, April 12, 2010

West Meets East in Stratford: It All Starts With the Kids

Paul Finkelstein (aka Fink) isn’t about Paul Finkelstein.
He’s about food; he’s about education; but most of all, he’s about the kids.
Appropriately, then, this first blog post isn’t about Paul Finkelstein. It’s about the kids from his Stratford Northwestern Secondary School’s Culinary Arts program (the gang who make a healthy lunch from scratch every day for fellow students eating at the alternative cafeteria ‘The Screaming Avocado’). And it’s about the kids from the Culinary Arts program at Edward Milne Community School. They just flew in from Sooke, British Columbia, to take part in a delicious exchange program: they’re going to be immersed neck-deep in Ontario’s food scene all week, simmering Sous Vide as they attend the Niagara Institute, visit Toronto’s historical markets and innovative restaurants, and ‘live the food’ in Stratford.
It’s Saturday, and there are three workshops taking place at the Screaming Avocado. The first is a lesson in Chinese cuisine, as none other than Ken Gene (from Stratford’s takeout Mecca Gene’s Restaurant) arrives to teach the students how to make Kung-Po Chicken. When I asked Penny from Edward Milne School what she liked most about the hands-on cooking session, she told me she appreciated the opportunity to exercise her creativity, “Each one was unique because we got to make our own choices for ingredients!”
Next, Stratford local Brendon Rooney – a blossoming food educator with a natural talent for teaching – came to coach the kids how to make sushi rolls. One proud BC student named Taylor presented me with a vegetarian maki she had created herself: Brendon, I just hope one day you will teach my own children to make me such fine offerings.
Finally, talented pastry chef Wendy Farkas (see pic at top) came to teach the kids how to make the cutest little miniature fruits and vegetables out of Marzipan (a confection made of almonds and sugar that can be fashioned and adorned with edible paint to resemble almost anything). I noticed that Troy from Sooke was already a bit of an expert hand at this exercise: he explained that making the little models was just like making scenery for the role playing game Warhammer 40,000. But tastier, right Troy?
Seeing the kids from BC working alongside their assigned “twins” from Ontario made me appreciate Paul’s approach. It’s not about him. It’s not about his haircut [Jamie Oliver, that one’s for you!]. It’s about youth in Canada working together to develop skills that will make this country an even yummier and healthier place in the future.
Good luck with the rest of your week, you lucky little foodigans! And may the Stratford kids have as great a culinary experience as the BC crew did here when they go to Sooke later this month!
PS: Look for the Screaming Avocado gang and their new friends on Breakfast Television the morning of Tuesday, April 13th. And at the "East Meets West" dinner being held at the Screaming Avocado @ SNSS the evening of Wednesday, April 14th!


  1. Ms. Farkas took her class on a field trip to Rundles and my homie whoz in her class said she told him the guy who cooks the food in there is a slob and another guy from there tries to pick up all the young girls at the food school aint eating there

  2. I have heard of a lot of crap about Ms. Farkas.
    WOW. Scary stuff.